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Rapidian Roundup: What's happening on the West Side?

The Westside Corridor Improvement Authority approves new housing and changes to West Side dining and discusses ways to beautify the West Side with new banners and murals.

/The Rapidian staff

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Alexa Cheaney is a reporting intern with The Rapidian during the 2024 summer semester and is a student at Grand Rapids Community College.This partnership between GRCC and The Rapidian is made possible through the Transfer Bridges to the Humanities, U of M program, providing GRCC students with accessible opportunities to engage with the college community on both a professional and extracurricular level as they explore future degree and career paths in the humanities.


The Westside Corridor Improvement Authority approved an adoption to its budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 this month, as well as multiple community development projects, including a 24-bedroom housing development.

In the final step to get the FY 2025 budget approved, Verah Narh-Kamara, the administrative analyst for the corridor improvement authorities, stated during a June 7 meeting that the budget recommendation was approved by the City Commission. This budget was initially put together during a special meeting on April 12 where the Westside CIA looked over the priority plan for the next four years and created a recommendation based on that. 

Narh-Kamara’s motion was approved and the budget was officially adopted. The Westside CIA went on to approve four city development plans. 

Housing development at 851 West Fulton St.

The plan, proposed by Westside CIA’s Secretary Brent Gibson, involves turning 851 West Fulton St. into a housing development with eight units and a total of 24 bedrooms. 

The total cost of renovations will be $2.5 million. Gibson asked the body for a $30,000 reimbursement for facade improvements. These improvements include new windows, doors, siding and exterior lighting. 

Gibson abstained from voting due to a conflict of interest and the motion was passed. 

The Blue Dog Tavern to add outdoor seating and a new kitchen

What used to be The Guest House and is now unused property at 634 Stocking St. will be renovated into a new and bigger kitchen, in addition to more outdoor seating, for the Blue Dog Tavern. Renovations will total $36,057 and a request was made for $13,642 for new masonry and a new awning. 

This motion was passed. 

Information about ArtPrize grant, new murals coming to West Side

Currently pending approval, ArtPrize is proposing the creation of a selection committee and an art grant for up to $30,000. If approved, the committee would work with ArtPrize’s support to solicit, review proposals and select a muralist for the project.

If created, ArtPrize would be the facilitator while the CIA would serve as the sponsor of the art grant and the Westside CIA’s design committee would select the artist. 

Clarifications were made that a new mural would be replacing the one currently located at 422 Leonard St., with an artist and design to be decided at a later date. It was also discussed that Stockbridge Street and Fulton Street have spots where they would like murals as well. 

Food truck and beer garden proposed on Bridge Street

Principal of the architectural firm Mathison Architects Ben Franceschi proposed The Back Lot, a food truck and beer garden project at 616 Bridge St.

Plans proposed by Franceschi include four food trucks in the front of the courtyard, indoor and outdoor seating areas, bars, kiosks and an outdoor deck that can be used during all four seasons. 

Franceschi also stated that this proposed development is in line with the city’s ordinance regulating the proximity of food trucks to brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Featured food trucks will sign a one year lease.

More to come, as the City Planning Commission is expected to discuss this potential development at future meetings. 

West Side banners pending maintenance

In future meetings, the Westside CIA is expected to consider allocating up to $15,000 in banner maintenance, including clean up and potential streetlight banner replacement. 

West Side light pole banners contain logos of local businesses, and the Westside CIA wants to ensure that if the banners are repaired or replaced and a business leaves, a new company doesn’t take down the banners after the money is spent.

Westside CIA member Daniel Grinwis stated that only $2,800 of the $10,000 allocated in the FY 2024 budget for this maintenance has been spent.

This news article was made possible by the work of Grand Rapids Documenters who were in the room while these decisions were discussed among city officials. Want more information? Visit

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